What do New Orleans, Grand Cayman, and Bangkok, Thailand, all have in common? They each have a hotel property that is part of the Marriott Rewards network. Matthew Turley was in all three places recently to shoot the company’s latest advertising campaign.
The assignment, which came via mcgarrybowen in New York, was to create one magazine-spread image for each location. “It was less about the properties themselves, and more about the experiences that you can have,” says Turley. Indeed, none of the images shows the hotel directly. In New Orleans, Turley shot an art gallery space where the hotel often hosts live concerts; in Grand Cayman, it was a woman snorkeling with school of stingrays; and in Bangkok, Turley climbed a 50-foot custom-built scaffolding to shoot the 360-degree views of the hotel’s rooftop bar.
The client already had a well-defined concept for the project, Turley says, the creativity came from how to execute it. He credits his producer Steven Currie with helping him to pull it off. “The three ads are evidence it worked out well, they are really close to the original layouts,” says Currie.
Art Producer Kim Stoerker, who produced the project and traveled with Matthew’s team had this to say about the shoot: “Our agency (mcgarrybowen) initiated this project in July, 2013 once the creative was approved. After 9 months, we were finally on our way with Matthew Turley! Each of the three destinations we photographed had their own unique energy: the lively spirit of New Orleans during Mardi Gras, the relaxed vibe of Grand Cayman during their endless summer and the intensity of Bangkok! Our goal with Matthew was to highlight the unique experiences a traveler could have during his/her stay at each of these Marriott properties when they used Marriott Rewards Points. It was impossible not to soak in some of the local flavor while visiting these cities and I think some of that flavor shows in the final images. Matthew had the right skill set for this project. Whether it was scaling buildings or hopping in the water with slippery sea creatures, he was game to do it if it was the best way to get the shot. Our team had a great chemistry throughout our 23 days together and that always makes a project even more satisfying to see come to life! “
There was also a video production team shooting television ads, which Currie says helped them out. “We usually had an extra day of prep while the video team did their shoot. The schedule allowed us to investigate our options for shooting these things.”
Currie says the production was interesting because each shot required a different execution and each scenario presented different challenges. “Underwater you’re dealing with live untrained animals, the interior you’re dealing with lighting, and for the rooftop shot we had to build the scaffolding from a floor below to where Matthew wanted to be with the camera,” he says. “We never would have gotten that scaffolding and gotten that angle if we had been rushed into shooting. The schedule allowed us to be a little more creative.”
The scaffolding, Currie notes was perfectly safe; they had the permits and insurance required. Still, Currie said, “I wasn’t going out there!”
None of the final images is a single image—they are all composites of multiple shots. The Grand Cayman image is a made up of 15 to 20 individual images, and the rooftop image in Bangkok required more than 20 images. “The post-production is where I really got to express myself,” says Turley.
Turley says a big production with so many moving parts is rewarding to work on, and especially exciting when it all comes together. “With the right crew, enough time, and great locations, problem solving becomes rewarding, rather than frustrating,” he says.
In addition to producer Steven Currie, Turley’s team consisted of first assistant and digital tech Mikey Kunde, second assistant Chris Jameson, and San Francisco-based stylist Colleen Hartman.
A big thank you to Art Producer Kim Stoerker and Art Director Mayumi Tatsuta from mcgarrybowen for the awesome project.